Leicester City’s remarkable fairytale continues as they overturned a first-leg deficit to beat Sevilla and reach the Champions League last eight on a night of raw passion at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes were down after a 2-1 first-leg loss in Spain that led to the sacking of Claudio Ranieri – the manager who had guided them into this competition after winning the Premier League nine months ago.
Now, with Craig Shakespeare in charge, Leicester have been transformed, and they were on their way to another spectacular triumph when captain Wes Morgan smuggled them into a first-half lead.
That goal put Leicester in control of the tie, a supremacy they emphasised when Marc Albrighton drilled home a second nine minutes after the interval, seconds after Sergio Escudero hit the bar for the visitors.
Leicester survived a frantic final spell when Samir Nasri picked up a second yellow card for a clash of heads with Jamie Vardy – who missed two great chances – keeper Kasper Schmeichel saved a penalty from Steven N’Zonzi that could have taken the tie into extra time and Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli was sent to the stands as tensions reached boiling point.
The victory means the Foxes join the illustrious company of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Real Madrid in Friday’s quarter-final draw.
On Wednesday, Manchester City go to Monaco and Atletico Madrid play Bayer Leverkusen to determine the final two sides in the last eight.
Shakespeare has been appointed manager until the end of the season – and if he carries on in his current vein he might be able to name his price.
He has already moved Leicester away from relegation trouble with two Premier League wins out of two against Liverpool and Hull, but this is the sort of victory upon which reputations are made and jobs secured.
Shakespeare, assistant to Ranieri in that title campaign, has simply turned the dial back nine months, restored Leicester City’s title-winning team – with Wilfred Ndidi for the departed N’Golo Kante – and style, with spectacular results.
The giant banner unfurled before kick-off, with a nod to William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, read: “Let Slip The Dogs of War” and that is exactly what he has done.
Leicester City’s owners can take their time and weigh up their options with Shakespeare at the helm, but he is stating his own case very eloquently.
Leicester’s are now focused on Premier League survival, they are three points above the relegation zone in 15th and travel to West Ham on Saturday aiming for a third successive league win.
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